Thousands attend Telangana march

In a massive show of strength by groups fighting for a Telangana state, thousands marched here Sunday as tension gripped the Andhra Pradesh capital following clashes with police.

People from various parts of the city and neighbouring districts converged on Necklace Road on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake as tension mounted due to clashes in surrounding areas.

Holding flags of their respective parties and groups, the protesters squatted on the Buddha Bhavan-P.V. Ghat stretch. Hundreds of youngsters occupied the parallel railway track.

Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’ amid the beating of drums and singing songs by Telangana artists, men, women and children from various sections asked the central government to make Telangana a separate state.

Leaders of Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and organisations of students, employees, lawyers, women and trade unions were on the dais.

Youngsters removed barricades and clashed with police to advance towards the Secretariat and other high-security areas. A police vehicle was set on fire.

The march began at 3 p.m. Police said the organisers had permission to conduct the march till 7 p.m.

Police fired tear gas in at least three places to disperse protesters who tried to remove barricades.

Police twice arrested MPs from the ruling Congress from Telangana who staged a sit-in in front of the Chief Minister’s Office to protest large-scale arrests of people coming to Hyderabad.

A section of state ministers from the region threatened to quit.

The cancellation of dozens of trains and buses in Telangana region and the arrests of hundreds headed to the state capital angered the pro-Telangana groups, who alleged that the government was trying to suppress the movement despite giving permission for the march.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was deployed at the chief minister’s camp office in Begumpet.

Several parts of the city resembled battle zones, with police sealing off the routes around the secretariat, the Chief Minister’s Office and other high-security areas.

Legislators of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were also arrested in front of the assembly building as they blocked the traffic in support of the march.

Amid fears that properties of people from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions could be attacked, many roads were sealed off. Police chief Dinesh Reddy monitored the situation from a helicopter.

At Osmania University, students stoned police.

Notwithstanding the fervent appeals being made by the TJAC and TRS leaders for peaceful conduct of the “March” from the meeting dais at the Necklace Road, some agitators set ablaze some media vehicles as well the Nearby MMTS railway station on fire.

One media vehicle was burnt down totally as no fire engine was able to reach the spot. The police who tried to chase away the surging agitators, who in turn made good use of the stones on the railway tracks as missiles and rain them on police.

The Necklace Road, the venue of T-March, was jam-packed with every inch being occupied by the agitators to echo their demand for separate statehood. Some of the speakers also made it clear that “Telangana cannot be attained by lobbying in New Delhi, but the people have to take to streets in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the region.” They also warned Integrationists as well the KIran Kumar Reddy-led Congress government not to precipitate matters by using force to suppress their voice for separate statehood.

Some of them even demanded the T-Ministers to submit their resignations as the police desperately tried to foil the meeting. “If you faile to resign, then we may have to suspect that you are also form part of conspirators to prevent formation of separate statehood,” they alleged.

JAC convenor M. Kodandaram condemned what he said was a government conspiracy to foil the march by cancelling trains and buses from various parts of Telangana to Hyderabad.

Another Telangana leader, N. Janardhana Reddy, threatened to disrupt the UN global biodiversity meet opening here Monday.